MASA TOTM – December 2007 – Mekaeel

Our featured tank for December 2007 belongs to Mekaeel

Hi my name is Mekaeel Karim further more known as Miki by my friends and family. (username mekaeel). I started out just like many other reefers with a FW tank. At the age of 3, my dad bought me my first goldfish bowl and from there I kept on demanding for larger FW tanks which I got.

At the age of 10 while playing around in a rock pool, I caught myself a little Raccoon Butterfly, and that’s when the SW part came in. I then started a FOWLR 2 ft tank which I kept for a few years keeping the sergeant majors, butterflies and most of the common fish found in our local rock pools.

Slowly I upgraded to a 3 ft tank and carried on FOWLR for a few more years until I found that too small, so then I went for a 4ft tank which was also FOWLR running on 2 canister filters and a hang on via aqua skimmer, until I met Marco.

After seeing the beauty of a reef tank I decided to add some softies to the tank which were doing very well. I then decided to go out for a 5ft tank which hosted a lot of softies, LPS and a few SPS. the tank ran well for +- 4 months until it decided to crack one night, luckily I managed to save all of my corals and fish which I quickly placed into my old 4ft tank. it so happened that 3 days later I went on a vacation down the south coast and when I got back, I found that tank completely dry with a terrible smell. Well, I lost all my corals and fish that I had, but I was lucky that most of my major equipment was all fine. I figured let me start all over again and went up to a 6ft tank which is currently the Featured tank of December 2007. This gives me a total of 15 years of SW experience.


The tank dimensions are 1.8*610*610 10mm glass

The sump dimensions are 1.2*400*400 6mm glass

The wood work is done in pine painted in white with the corners and sides in 3mm white Perspex. you guys might be wondering why I chose Perspex, well the main reason is, at night with all lights of in the apartment, the blue light from the sump area shines out through the white Perspex giving my apartment a lovely blue effect. The stand is built from 20mm cube steel.

Due to the space restrictions of flat life, I had to unfortunately squeeze all my equipment in my lounge area.

The sump sits under the main display with the chiller, Skimmer, CArx, kalkstirrer, RO reservoir and carbon and phosphate reactor which sits externally next to the tank.

Above my DSB sits my little frag setup which is lit by 2*39W aqua medic T5 bulbs.


The tank consists of +- 40 kgs of ceramic rock which is my base rock, covered by +- 100kgs of live rock.

The Sump contains a compartment which houses a 15cm deep sand bed to help control nitrates.

I am using Chaetomorpha macro algae in a separate chamber in the sump to help absorb nutrients; this is harvested once in a month due to its rapid growth rate.

My skimmer is a Reef octopus DNW 200. I am more than happy with the performance of it, and find it to be one of my greatest investments in regards to the tank. I get about half a cup of dark coffee brown skimmate every 2 days.

A UV sterilizer is also installed on my system which is only switched on should any of my fish pick up white spots or other forms of fungal diseases and when new fish are added to the system.

Carbon is run through a 3 in 1 fluidized reactor. I do not run any phosphate media due to the Zeovit system which I’ve been experimenting with in the last 1.5 months with great success!


Water circulation is provided by :
2 *  Seio m1500 6000lph
4 * Seio m820 2400lph
2 * Lifetech 2500lph
2 * Lifetech 1000lph
1 * Resun Wavewaker 15000lph
1 * Resun king1A 700lph
Return pump Rio Hyper flow 4900 lph

Total water movement 44300
Total turnover (excl return) 63 times


I have a DIY alluminium lighting hood which houses :
3* 150W DE 14K bulbs on swivel reflectors
Each Metal Halide has an individual pc fan for keeping the bulbs cool.
1* 54W 15K Giesiman T5
1 * 54W Fiji purple KZ T5
2 * 39W 10K Aqua Medic T5s

There is also a 54W Dazs T5 unit which consists of 3* Aqua Medic 20K actinic bulbs, which sits directly behind the main aluminum lighting hood.

The sump is lit by a 2ft T8 6500K Philips bulb and 2*39W 10k AM T5s for the Chaeto and Frag setup.
Additionally there is a 4ft 20K Philips bulb (to supplement the whites)

Photo period
Actinics                              on 10:00AM off 01:00AM
Whites and Fiji purple        on 11:00AM off 00:00PM
Metal Halides                    on 12:00pm off 23:00PM
Sump lights                       on 01:00AM off 10:00AM


The system is cooled with a Haliea HC-300A chiller

There are no heaters installed, as my apartment is pretty warm through out the day and night even during the winter seasons.

Ph and Temperature is monitored by a Reef Fanatic 2 in 1 monitor.

RO is made up by the WaterBoy Reef Master Series.

The auto top up unit is a Saga LV 2006-C which is hooked up to my Aqua medic Kalk stirrer which runs 24/7 and helps control Ph and the Calcium demand of the system.

Calcium and Magnesium is supplied via a Reef Octopus single chamber Calcium reactor, and is controlled with a Saga Ph controller. Media used is the Tunze CaCo3 and 15 % Zeo mag.

I am currently not using a Zeo Reactor but will be getting one in the near future.
Test Kits used are :
Tropic Marine Expert Test Kit
Tropic Marine Ca & Mg
Tropic Marine Po4
Water parameters are tested once in a month unless something doesn’t look quite right in terms of the health of fish and corals.


A 4-5 % water change is done weekly using natural sea water or synthetic salt (Rio Real Ocean).Occasionally I do 100L water change just because natural sea water is easy accessible. As Anthony Calfo stated at the IMACSA 2007 “Dilution is the solution to pollution”. Water changes are done not because of poor water quality but rather to replace trace elements that have been removed by filtration i.e. heavy skimming.

I use filter wool in my overflow to catch as much detritus as possible to stop it from entering the sump area and cause a build up (nitrate factory). This is replaced weekly.

The skimmer cup is emptied and cleaned every 2 days so that I get the best possible performance out of the skimmer.

Carbon is replaced every second week as I noticed towards the end of every second week the water just misses that sparkle.

The back and side panes of the tank are cleaned once in a week and the front pane is cleaned daily inside out.

Major equipment eg. pumps and chiller is cleaned every 6 months.

My RO reservoir is topped up once a week as I get about 50l of evaporation weekly.

The DSB and sump area is cleaned and all detritus siphoned out monthly.


Feeding is done once or twice a day. I try to avoid frozen foods because of the high phosphate levels contained in them. Some of the foods that I feed are Omega One garlic pellets, Omega one garlic flakes and Julian Sprung Sea veggies (Nori). The main reason why I feed so lightly is to keep the nutrients as low as possible.

The Aqua medic Kalk stirrer is filled with the Waterboy kalkwasser, only refilled when I notice there’s about 2cm of Kalk left in the stirrer.
The Calcium Reactor media is the Tunze CaCo3 and 15% Zeomag (magnesium).

Additional supplements :
The Waterboy Maxi calcium is added should the kalkstirrer and calcium reactor not meet the calcium demand, and Waterboy Maxi Mag to maintain the magnesium levels.

I’ve been dosing Vodka for a few months now and noticed a great improvement in color and growth of the SPS as well as much more skimmate as compared to what it was before I implemented the Vodka technique. The current dosage of Vodka is 2.5ml in the morning and 2.5ml in the evening. As soon as I notice a light brown algae film on the glass and substrate, which is an indication of overdose, I immediately cut down the dosage until the film disappears.

Ok here are some of the Zeo products and the current dosages :
Zeobac                 3 drops twice a week
Zeofood7             3 drops twice a week
Coral vitalizer     2 drops daily
Amino Acid High 1 drop daily
Stylo pocci glow 1 drop daily for 2 weeks and then a 4 week break


Some of the SPS corals

A.Millepora (green)
Montipora Capricornis (red)
Montipora Capricornis (green)
Montipora Digitata (pink)
Montipora Digitata (orange)
Montipora Digitata (red)
Montipora Altesepta
Helioceris Cucullata
Hydnophora Grandis
Pachseris Speciosa
Pocillopora Verucosa
Seriatopora Histryx
Stylephora Pistillata

I’ve found that in order for SPS to thrive in our little reefs, stable water parameters, heavy skimming, strong lighting are of greatest importance.

Some of the LPS and softies Corals

Favia Lizadensis
Lipastrea Pruinosa
Scolymia Cubensis
Acanthastrea Lordhowensis
Acanthophyllia Deshayesiana
Cycloseris Tenuis
Fungia Danai
Euphyllya Paradivisa
Euphyllia Cristata

I am quite pleased that my LPS are thriving in a low nutrient system.


Some fish from my fish collection

Purple tang (Zebrasoma xanthturum)
Convict tang (Acanthurus triostegus)
Regal Tang (Paracanthus Hepatus)
Sailfin Tang (Zebrasoma veliferum)
Fiji Blue chromis (Chromis sp.)
Yellow tang (Zebrasoma flavescens)
Six line wrasse (Pseudocheilinus hexataenia)
Blue lipped angel (Apolemichthys trimaculatus)
Bi colour angel (Centypyge bicolour)
Cleaner wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus)
African clown (Amphiprion chrysogaster)
Domino damsel (Dascyllus trimaculatus)
Sea goldie (Pseudanthias squamipinnis)
Fox face (Lo Vulpinus)
Cresent tail wrasse (Thalassoma lunare)
Velvet damsel (Neoglyphidodon oxyodon)


My cleanup crew consists of +- 80 hermit crabs which I picked up from the local rock pools.
One starfish and 2 clams. 1 Squamossa and 1 Crocea.


Tank SpecificationsTank Dimensions:1800mm L * 610mm H * 610mm W
Sump Dimensions:1200mm L * 400mm H * 400mm W
Refugium Dimensions:
Tank Volume: +-670l
Sump volume: +-150l
System Volume: +-700l (inc LR and DSB)
Water Parameters
Temperature: Low 25 degrees celcius – High 26.5 degree celcius (summer)
pH: Low 8.0 high 8.25
Salinity: 1.025
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 5
Phosphate: 0
Calcium: 420
KH: 7
Magnesium: 1300


Well I cannot say the tank has been just perfect from the start. I’ve previously lost a few fish and corals due to an old Via Aqua sk388 skimmer I had in my sump. The skimmer cup overflowed while I was on vacation and a lot of skimmate poured out into my sump causing the loss of  a few fish and corals, as the water parameters were way out of the recommended ranges. This skimmer has now been removed with the help of a good friend Liaquat Sain.we spent pretty much the entire night cutting the skimmer in half and removing it from the sump as the stand was too low just to pull it out. Thank you for all your help Liaquat!

On another occasion while I was on vacation for 2 weeks, the power went out for 9 hours and when the power came back on, due to the high temperature in the tank lots of evaporation had taken place the RO reservoir was emptied out once the power came back on. This happened on the Thursday. I left my tank in excellent hands with a very close friend Marco, who came in on that Monday and got a shock of his life when he saw the reservoir empty and the sump was dry and the pumps all running dry. He, as well as my father in law, got together and began making RO water and got the tank up and running again, the temperature was sitting at 28 degrees. Should the two of them not have been there, I don’t think I would’ve had any livestock left. I lost a few Acros as well as 3 clams. Thank you Marco and Goolam Joosab (my father in law) for all your help!

Sometime back I experienced a serious hair algae problem which took me months to sort out. I am slowly winning the battle by manual removal, wet skimming, regular water changes, and the start of the Zeovit system.

I would like to say a huge thank you to my wife who has given me her full support from the time I’ve known her. Also my parents for their support (financially) every time I ran out of money in this hobby.
Thank you to all the members of MASA for your advice and compliments right from the beginning.
Andrew Cheary and Marco for all their advice, support and excellent service.
And last but not least the Staff of Marine Aquariums SA for all their support and hosting my 8 month old tank as the featured tank of December 2007, its really been an honour!
Thank you once again to all!

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